March 14 – March 31, 2023
Note: We did little cooking during our 2 weeks in paradise. But there are lots of pictures of golf, Pink putters and handers-on, etc., at the bottom of this post, below the recipe.
Bentleys and Baked Scrod
Which of these two towns has more great restaurants – Naples, Italy or Naples, Florida? Before you go all international on me, let me tell you a thing or two Mr. I’m-too-cool-for-my-own-continent: It is astonishing how many great restaurants serious money can buy. And Naples, Florida has bought them, along with the Bentleys, Rolls and Ferraris that throng its streets, and the world’s largest crew of landscapers per acre and, after Hurricane Ian, a half-continent’s worth of dry-wallers, plumbers, water-damage restorers and rebuilders of all sorts.
Beez and I spent a paradisiacal two weeks in America’s Naples with family and friends. Dennis and Annie were incredibly generous, hosting the Pink Putters* and their Partners for several rounds of golf, plying us with brunch and drinks day and night and, on March 17th, hosting a dinner party which celebrated not just the Putters but SWMBO’s and my 44th wedding anniversary. Ann and Chris and Mere and Hoddy and Rick were in town and joined us (‘us’ being Dennis and Annie, Tim and Hilda, Katie and Dave, Julie and SWMBO and me). I am blessed to be married to SWMBO, and we are both blessed to have such good and loving friends.
*Beez, Hilda, Annie, Katie and Julie began to spend wild, skiing weekends together years ago and someone named them the ‘Pink Parkas’. They began to play golf together maybe 8 years ago and became known as the ‘Pink Putters.’ And many of the crew made it out to Walter’s ranch in Idaho and rode horses, and were christened the ‘Pink Palominos.’ Now, they are just known as the ‘Pinks.’ They are the best women I know, but if they all take up knitting, how about the green needles? Enough with the ‘Pink’ already. The pink putters are picture below:
Other highlights of our trip included gang dinners at wonderful restaurants, golf at Royal Poinciana (thanks to Dennis and Annie) and Old Collier (thanks to Hoddy and Mere), Beez sunning at the pool, me reading in our rented condo, a great lunch with Hoddy, Billy, Hoby at Old Collier, quieter dinners with Mere and Hoddy and with Billy at Miramare and Amore, daily walks with Dennis on Gulf Shore Boulevard North, afternoons in the gym with the other old guys and a bunch of great NCAA basketball tournament games. Oh – and there was also a very nice fish we cooked one night, a bit weary of eating in restaurants that cost an arm, a leg, an eye, the keys to your car, and your first-born child.
We had wonderful oysters and fish and pasta and veal and tuna tartare in those great restaurants, but we’re going to share a recipe that reminded Beez and me of that staple of Pittsburgh Cuisine – Baked Scrod.
For this dish, I have modified a recipe from the New York Times, though I made a tartar sauce loaded with chopped capers and cornichons* exactly to the NYT’s specifications. Billy was with us and Beez and I agreed that this version compared well with the delicious version I used to have at the now shuttered Pittsburgh Athletic Association and may even have equaled the previously unequaled version served at the old Tambellini’s on the back side of Mt. Washington.
*One of the downsides of vacation rentals is the lack of cookware. Our condo had, inexplicably, seven spatulas, 6 large rubber spoons and two ladles, but no butcher’s knife, despite having three cutting boards. Try finely chopping 5 tablespoons of capers and 2 tablespoons of cornichons with a paring knife some time and you’ll agree that I did some heroic work for our dinner of scrod.
Crispy Baked Fish with Tartar Sauce
(adapted from NYT “Cooking” March 19, 2023)
Timing: 30 minutes
Ingredients: Serves 4
4 6-ounce thick white fish fillets (halibut, cod – we used talapia, a bit thinner, and cut down the cooking time a bit)
1 cup mayonnaise
5 tablespoons capers, drained and chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped cornichons
2 tablespoons chopped tarragon or dill or parsley (we used parsley)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire or soy sauce (we used Worcestershire)
1 small garlic clove
1 large lemon
½ cup panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and Black Pepper
Preheat oven to 400 F
Chop capers and cornichons
Assemble other ingredients
Remove fish from refrigerator
Make the tartar sauce:
In a bowl, stir the mayonnaise, capers, pickles, herbs and Worcestershire or Soy Sauce.
Use a microplane to grate the garlic into the bowl and then to grate in the zest of the lemon. Stir to combine and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Coat the fish:
In a small bowl, mix the panko and olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Pat the fish dry and season all over with salt and pepper.
Transfer the fish to a lightly greased and foil-lined sheet pan.
Coat the top of the fillets with a thin layer of the tartar sauce, then sprinkle the panko on top and press gently to adhere.
Cook the fish:
Bake the fish on the top rack until almost cooked through (10-15 minutes for ½ – ¾-inch thick fillets.
While the fish is cooking add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to the tartar sauce and cut the remaining lemon into wedges for serving.
For the last two minutes of cooking, switch the oven to ‘broil’.
Serve with tartar sauce, more black pepper and a squeeze of lemon. Tambellini’s would be proud of you.
More photos from Naples:
3 thoughts on “Bentleys and Baked Scrod”
Bill, great blog, great pictures! I am definitely going to try that fish. It’s my kind of food! Thanks for all your efforts in assembling these blogs. I appreciate them!
To be clear, we did not drive up to Fort Myers for the express purpose of seeing the Twins crush the Bucs; that was just the result. I went to watch an ornery old Rich Hill get pissed off about the pitch clock in his final spring training start. He did not disappoint.
Always a wonderful read from you. You really captured Naples with “The Pinks” as the highlight that it was.
Thank you Annie and Dennis for organizing and making this all possible. 😎🏌️♀️🏖☘️
Also, a huge thank you to you and Beez for sharing your beautiful condo with Tim and me!
It’s a wonderful life!🐇💕💙😎